“Mme Proust is seated, looking to the left, while her sons, young men in their twenties, stand on either side of her. They are beautifully dressed and have a look in their eyes that suggests the boulevard and the salon. There is something feline and sleek about the pair of them. It is easy to imagine why maman is so dour-looking and disapproving, her mouth firmly closed, her eyes fixed on the ground. She is a woman who knows what trouble looks like, and these boys are ready for trouble of the most sweet and tender and pleasurable kind.”

– Colm Tóibín, The Sweet Troubles of Proust

Photo: Bibliothèque Nationale de France

“Mme Proust is seated, looking to the left, while her sons, young men in their twenties, stand on either side of her. They are beautifully dressed and have a look in their eyes that suggests the boulevard and the salon. There is something feline and sleek about the pair of them. It is easy to imagine why maman is so dour-looking and disapproving, her mouth firmly closed, her eyes fixed on the ground. She is a woman who knows what trouble looks like, and these boys are ready for trouble of the most sweet and tender and pleasurable kind.”

– Colm Tóibín, The Sweet Troubles of Proust

Photo: Bibliothèque Nationale de France

On February 5, The New York Review celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with an evening at Town Hall in New York City. Before a packed crowd of 1,400 people, editor Robert Silvers introduced John Banville, Mary Beard, Michael Chabon, Mark Danner, Joan Didion, Daniel Mendelsohn, and Darryl Pinckney, who read from their past work in the Review and spoke about their relationship with the magazine, and its influence on their careers.

We’re pleased to present some highlights from the event, with photos by Beowulf Sheehan.

Climate change is only starting to become a practical problem for the big population centers of the lower forty-eight states, but it has been that in Alaska for a long time. Native villages with sea frontage are eroding and must be moved. Tall new brush and saplings spring up on the tundra where they hadn’t grown before. The season during which it’s possible to drive on ice roads has shortened from 204 days to 124, and cache-pit freezers dug generations ago must be cleaned out because they’re melting.

Ian FrazierIn the Beautiful, Threatened North

Photo by Subhankar Banerjee: Sheenjek River II, from his Oil and the Caribou series (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska), 2002

Climate change is only starting to become a practical problem for the big population centers of the lower forty-eight states, but it has been that in Alaska for a long time. Native villages with sea frontage are eroding and must be moved. Tall new brush and saplings spring up on the tundra where they hadn’t grown before. The season during which it’s possible to drive on ice roads has shortened from 204 days to 124, and cache-pit freezers dug generations ago must be cleaned out because they’re melting.

Ian Frazier
In the Beautiful, Threatened North

Photo by Subhankar Banerjee: Sheenjek River II, from his Oil and the Caribou series (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska), 2002

We value great art most fundamentally not because the art as product enhances our lives but because it embodies a performance, a rising to artistic challenge. We value human lives well lived not for the completed narrative, as if fiction would do as well, but because they too embody a performance: a rising to the challenge of having a life to lead. The final value of our lives is adverbial, not adjectival—a matter of how we actually lived, not of a label applied to the final result. It is the value of the performance, not anything that is left when the performance is subtracted. It is the value of a brilliant dance or dive when the memories have faded and the ripples died away.
From “What Is a Good Life?” by philosopher and longtime New York Review contributor Ronald Dworkin, who died on February 14 at the age of 81
Charles Mingus’s audiences never knew quite what they were going to get, and this kept them coming. A new box set of rare and previously unreleased performances capture the notoriously mercurial bassist, composer, and bandleader at the apex of his career.

Mingus: The Chaos and the Magic
Christopher Carroll

Photo: Charles Mingus in Paris, 1964 (Guy Le Querrec/Magnum Photos)

Charles Mingus’s audiences never knew quite what they were going to get, and this kept them coming. A new box set of rare and previously unreleased performances capture the notoriously mercurial bassist, composer, and bandleader at the apex of his career.

Mingus: The Chaos and the Magic
Christopher Carroll

Photo: Charles Mingus in Paris, 1964 (Guy Le Querrec/Magnum Photos)

Elizabeth Drew on the Republicans’ future: “As the Republicans search for a new and more electable identity they have a fundamental problem. Ever since they took their first major right turn in 1964, they have made a series of bargains in order to strengthen their ranks that have ultimately cost them broad national appeal and flexibility.”

Are the Republicans Beyond Saving?

Photo: House Speaker John Boehner, Washington, DC, January 22, 2013 (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Elizabeth Drew on the Republicans’ future: “As the Republicans search for a new and more electable identity they have a fundamental problem. Ever since they took their first major right turn in 1964, they have made a series of bargains in order to strengthen their ranks that have ultimately cost them broad national appeal and flexibility.”

Are the Republicans Beyond Saving?

Photo: House Speaker John Boehner, Washington, DC, January 22, 2013 (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In 1989, Revan Schendler was 24, broken-hearted and sleeping on a friend’s floor in New Orleans. Barbara Epstein called and offered her an assistant editor position at The New York Review. She soon plunged into the work: reading reports from Tiananmen Square, Central Europe, and the White House, fact-checking articles and finding photos. After two years, she left for Prague. “Within a month I was helping to launch Prague’s first English-language weekly newspaper, using all the skills I hadn’t realized I’d accumulated during my apprenticeship at the Review.”

Rude Mechanicals

In 1989, Revan Schendler was 24, broken-hearted and sleeping on a friend’s floor in New Orleans. Barbara Epstein called and offered her an assistant editor position at The New York Review. She soon plunged into the work: reading reports from Tiananmen Square, Central Europe, and the White House, fact-checking articles and finding photos. After two years, she left for Prague. “Within a month I was helping to launch Prague’s first English-language weekly newspaper, using all the skills I hadn’t realized I’d accumulated during my apprenticeship at the Review.”

Rude Mechanicals

Happy Robert Burns Day! On January 25, Scots celebrate the poet’s birthday with haggis, whisky and bagpipes in a party that John Carey calls “an orgy of assertive nationalism that has nothing remotely to do with literature.” “If you ask a group of academic friends to list the great poets of the last two or three hundred years,” Carey writes, “it is quite likely that his name will not come up at all.” Yet for Burns’s biographer, the author of “O my luve’s like a red, red rose” and “To a Louse, On Seeing one on a Lady’s Bonnet at Church” is very much worth literary examination.

Happy Robert Burns Day! On January 25, Scots celebrate the poet’s birthday with haggis, whisky and bagpipes in a party that John Carey calls “an orgy of assertive nationalism that has nothing remotely to do with literature.” “If you ask a group of academic friends to list the great poets of the last two or three hundred years,” Carey writes, “it is quite likely that his name will not come up at all.” Yet for Burns’s biographer, the author of “O my luve’s like a red, red rose” and “To a Louse, On Seeing one on a Lady’s Bonnet at Church” is very much worth literary examination.

In his new book, Mind and Cosmos, Thomas Nagel is not claiming that life is six thousand years old, that it did not evolve, or that natural selection played no part in this evolution. He believes that life has a long evolutionary history and that natural selection had a part in it. And while he does believe that intelligent design creationists have asked some incisive questions, Nagel rejects their answers. Indeed he is an atheist. Instead Nagel’s view is that neo-Darwinism, and in fact the whole materialist view elaborated by science since the seventeenth century, is radically incomplete. The materialist laws of nature must, he says, be supplemented by something else if we are to fold ourselves and our minds fully into our science.

H. Allen Orr: Awaiting a New Darwin

In his new book, Mind and Cosmos, Thomas Nagel is not claiming that life is six thousand years old, that it did not evolve, or that natural selection played no part in this evolution. He believes that life has a long evolutionary history and that natural selection had a part in it. And while he does believe that intelligent design creationists have asked some incisive questions, Nagel rejects their answers. Indeed he is an atheist. Instead Nagel’s view is that neo-Darwinism, and in fact the whole materialist view elaborated by science since the seventeenth century, is radically incomplete. The materialist laws of nature must, he says, be supplemented by something else if we are to fold ourselves and our minds fully into our science.

H. Allen Orr: Awaiting a New Darwin

Emerson, Thoreau, and Kipling idealized them, but wolves have been ruthlessly exterminated since at least the mid-nineteenth century. The Oneida Community in upstate New York was based on free love and communal property, lucratively funded by the development of wolf and bear traps. In Japan, “a culture of wolf hatred” took hold with the introduction of cattle farms.

Christopher Benfey on why “one species—our species, Homo sapiens—has worked so tirelessly to destroy another.”

Photo: Edward Krumanaker/National Geographic Society/Corbis

Emerson, Thoreau, and Kipling idealized them, but wolves have been ruthlessly exterminated since at least the mid-nineteenth century. The Oneida Community in upstate New York was based on free love and communal property, lucratively funded by the development of wolf and bear traps. In Japan, “a culture of wolf hatred” took hold with the introduction of cattle farms.

Christopher Benfey on why “one species—our species, Homo sapiens—has worked so tirelessly to destroy another.”

Photo: Edward Krumanaker/National Geographic Society/Corbis